Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Homeschooling the non-reader

I just realized that I hardly write about home schooling. We do home school. Sometimes I don't talk about it because I hate comparing myself to other people. It's a brutal world out there and just because we home school, is no different than being out in public schools.

You get together with other home schoolers and sometimes it turns out to be a competition. You know, the "well, my son is only 4 but he's in 3rd grade already" kind of stuff.

Last year, I wanted to do it all. I would hear of a curriculum that sounded good, I'd write it down and try it. I already had a curriculum, but I wanted to supplement what I had. So I ended up doing a lot more than what I should have and then realized that it was causing me and my son to dislike school. We were both stressed about it. I didn't even like to get up in the mornings, because I knew that the tears would start as soon as I said, "let's start school". And this was Kindergarten.

I actually wanted to quit. I prayed about it and knew that God still wanted us to home school. So I sucked it up, changed my attitude for this year and started fresh. School started pretty much the same way that it ended last year. Both of us in frustration. I knew there had to be an easier way to make this all better for us, but I had no idea how at the time. I also had a pre-k student, so now I had the little one that wanted to do school all the time and the 1st grader that hated school.

So I prayed some more and realized that I couldn't compare myself or my children to others. I was a unique person and so were my children. What worked for others obviously didn't work for me. I changed the way I did things, because while structure to the exact minute works for some people, it didn't work for us. Yes, we start at a certain time, but if we didn't finish in the alloted time that I'd given it, so what, we continued on until we finished.

AB hated to read. All the words seemed to just jump out at him and he got overwhelmed with them. He would open the book, start to cry and not stop until we finished the little story. I had to change everything. I tried it all. You name it, I probably did it. I think I should invest in stock in the company's that make thick packing tape and blank index cards. I made flash cards for the vocabulary words and sentence strips for the sentences.

Some days would go better than others. While UB begged me to do school, AB begged me to let him go work, because he'd rather work than do school. I know that some people would tell me that I did it wrong, but sometimes I'd let AB pick what he wanted to do first. I wanted to get him to enjoy school and at the beginning of the year, like I said, he hated it.

I enrolled him in the Braum's ice cream program, the Pizza Hut program, the Six Flags reading program and even bribed him with so many books read would get him a certain lego set. No go. At one point he said he didn't care about any of it. I even threatened to send him to public school.

But my plan worked. Some days he wanted to do reading first. Some days last. But then there were those days that he wanted to read all day. So nothing but reading would get done, but I didn't care, because I was finally getting some of my sanity back.

Now, I can't type in front of him (if I don't want him to know what I'm typing). He reads signs all over the place while we are driving or at places where we are. He even says that he loves to read now. He'll get a book and tell me he wants to read it to me or he'll do two reading lessons at one time.

We do school my way now. I tell him what we need to do and what order and I get no tears and no tantrums. All I get is an "ok mom". He'll even want to start school before we are actually supposed to start.

In my 3rd year of Home schooling I've learned that praying about it definately works, but every child is different. What works for one, might not work for another.


Kari said...

amen to all that and above! Glad he loves to read now. Homeschooling is not easy!

Elizabeth said...

That's really awesome Laura. My brother was that way but he was in public school and never really got the attention he needed. He is 21 and still hates to read. I know it doesn't always happen like that in public school, but it is neat that as a home school mom you can be flexible and teach him in a way that he learns to love reading!! That's cool.